Pyramaze - Melancholy Beast
Nightmare Records
Powerful and Epic Heavy Metal
9 songs (50'50)
Release year: 2004
Pyramaze, Nightmare Records
Reviewed by Ben
Album of the year

How can I even try to describe to you the absolute brilliance of Melancholy Beast? How could I convey my feelings toward the music contained on this disc to someone and have them understand the emotions that it stirred inside of me? To tell you that this is amazing is the equivalent of telling you that the rain that falls down on my face is wet, that the sun is bright, and that the night is dark. Anything that I would try to say would be the biggest understatement in the world. I have never been this enraptured by music since the first time I heard Iron Maiden, Helloween, Judas Priest, Pretty Maids, Bonfire or Edguy. My life has been dominated by Melancholy Beast to the point where everything else that I even attempt to listen to leaves me wanting and I don’t even get through ten minutes before I start flailing towards the P section on my towers and put this on again for the umpteenth time.

A comparison to any other band seems trite and does nothing but simplify what is really going on here but my best attempt to get across the basic feel would be to imagine the most perfect blend of Iced Earth’s heaviness with Kamelot’s epic qualities and yet there is so much more. Compositionally, guitarist Michael Kammeyer has crafted eight songs, (keyboardist Jonah Weingarten wrote the instrumental) that are full of power, emotion, and energy that leaves me in stunned awe each and every time I take this cd for a spin. There are twists, turns, melodies, harmonics, and solos that abound at every corner to wow and amaze you. The vocals, which were provided by Lance King, soar and emote perfectly. This man has been singing for almost as long as I have been alive and that shows on each and every song. I know of no one else that could have pulled off the job that he did. His voice can only be described as a painter’s palette as he has so many different ways to inflect little nuances and subtleties into every single song, there are passages where every word that comes out of his mouth is nothing else but mindblowing. Rhythmically, the team of Niels and Morten on bass and drums add that extra element of power and steadiness. You’ve heard these two before in Aurora and you’ve heard Morten as well on Wuthering Height’s last two albums so you know that these are professionals and not young upstarts that have only been playing for three months. Even though the keyboards are not the super flashy kind that bring to mind images of sweeping runs across the board, they are one of the biggest reasons that make Melancholy Beast the monster that it is. There are fine examples of classical leaning, atmospheric and ambient moments, and even ripping solos that put a vast majority of guitarists to shame.

As for the songs themselves, there is nothing that is really representative of the whole album, every song is different and every song has its own strong identity. Opener Sleepy Hollow begins with a somber and sinister intro. A clean guitar with a distorted spoken word moment gives way into a rousing yell by Lance before everything breaks out and slaps you in the face. An extremely heavy riff, laced with harpsichord and Lance’s perfect voice are the main elements of this track before the keyboard and guitar solo that brings about the climax. Forsaken Kingdom is a speedy number and here those godly harmonics first rear their head. They take a backseat though to Lance, he absolutely shines on this one. He makes the lengthy chorus his own, he sings so beautifully and fits the lyrical content perfectly. Longing, sadness, and yet conviction and power are all present here. The title track is next and it is perhaps the heaviest song on the album. Midtempo, crunchy, and melodic with riffs that demand you to start flailing your air guitar. In what I can safely assume is a song about the character that graces the album cover we have some distorted monster like vocals that give the Melancholy Beast an identity. Real quick, I feel that I must comment also on the majority of the lyrics. This is not your “wave your sword in the air and thump your chain mail like you just don’t care” happy, happy, joy, joy brand of metal. Lyrical content ranges from the legend of Ichabod Crane, to the wondrous beauty of the ocean depths, the sad musings of a man who is the last vestige of the past he once knew, a search to find oneself in the depths of his psyche, the power of the human mind and more.

The Journey and Until We Fade Away wrap up the first half of the album, with the former having a scorcher of an intro before falling into a mid paced jaunt and the latter being a dark ballad. I say dark because Lance uses a very deep and foreboding facet of his voice to add emphasis to the refrain. Legend and Mighty Abyss the two biggest songs, clocking in at over seven and over eight minutes respectively. I can’t really comment much on these as they are songs that simply must be heard in order to comprehend. My vocabulary isn’t broad enough to describe them to you and if I tried in any way to simplify these songs into descriptive words it would be an insult to the scope and depth of them. If there ever is metal perfection, then it would lie within those two. In a twist of irony, despite being the shortest song, the keyboard instrumental, The Nature of Triumph is perhaps the most epic. A fifty second composition that fits the title, this is gorgeous and stunning in its beauty. Finally, we come to the last work of art here with Power of Imagination. Starting off as a blistering and glorious tune, halfway it abruptly slows down to a lament from Lance that builds up slowly and filled with tension before it explodes into a well executed guitar solo and gives way to a lilting and delicate ending that fades out and closes the album.

So there you have it, my paltry attempt to get across what an extraordinary album Melancholy Beast is. Something so vital and important in the metal scene today should not be passed up, you will sorely regret it. I haven’t heard anything as good as this in ages, and I don’t expect anything this year to even come close to touching this. After listening to Melancholy Beast, everything else that I hear seems dull and lifeless.

Killing Songs :
Legend, Mighty Abyss, Forsaken Kingdom, Nature of Triumph and everything else between 00:01 and 50:50
Ben quoted 97 / 100
Chris quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Pyramaze that we have reviewed:
Pyramaze - Epitaph reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
Pyramaze - Contingent reviewed by Joel and quoted 92 / 100
Pyramaze - Disciples Of The Sun reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
Pyramaze - Immortal reviewed by Ben and quoted 95 / 100
Pyramaze - Legend Of The Bone Carver reviewed by Ben and quoted 95 / 100
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